Friday, March 21, 2014

THE FAMILY VAULT by Charlotte MacLeod






Many critics consider Charlotte MacLeod's The Family Vault (1979) a mystery classic. I see why.

The Family Vault has one of the most skillful descriptions of a dysfunctional family I have ever seen. I cringed when I read about Sarah Kelling's family.

A deceased uncle wants to be buried in the family vault. When workers open the vault, they find an unusual brick wall blocking the entrance. They also find the body of Ruby Redd, a locally-well-known exotic dancer of almost three decades ago.

The brick wall is a strange design created by Sarah's husband.

Sarah, married very young to a much older man, lives with her husband Alexander and his mother in Boston's elite Beacon Hill neighborhood. Alexander's mother, both deaf and blind, runs the household with an iron hand.

And that ties in with the body the workers find.

I won't ruin the story. Before the books ends, there have been something like six murders. Sarah's life has changed exponentially. And everything is different than it seemed to be.

The Family Vault is a Sarah Kelling-Max Bittersohn book. So where does Max Bittersohn come in? The book tells us.

I have long enjoyed Charlotte MacLeod's Peter Shandy books. I thought I'd try her Sarah Kelling-Max Bittersohn books. I'm glad I did.  

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